Monday, March 19

Beauty, the Beast, and...

Once there was a girl, so brave, so true, that her willingness to sacrifice herself for someone she loved changed the heart of a great and terrible beast. Who was actually a cursed prince. And then they live happily ever after. Yes, this one is an old, familiar tale.
Which some people I know like to argue is the most Christ-like of the major fairy tales, because of the sacrifice substitution. And some other people I know like to argue is entirely about limited opportunities and Stockholm Syndrome.* Clearly, Beauty and the Beast is one of those stories that depends a great deal on the reader’s point of view.
Sadly, I won’t be discussing point of view this week. When Alex Flinn’s Beastly became a motion picture last year, point of view (or POV, for short) suddenly became a relevant part of fairy tales. Mostly because she writes from unusual POVs (the beast, the ugly stepsister, and so on). It’s an interesting concept, but it’s better discussed with other fairy tales. Maybe later.
No, this week I want to focus on young Beauty. As a writer, you are sometimes left with the very serious decision of what to reveal in a story, and what to leave out. Beauty’s motivation in agreeing to the trade—herself for her father—is an easy one for a reader to trace. Had she thought about the permanence of this choice? What if the beast ate her? What if she lived for sixty years in prison, and never went home? What had she expected, going into her imprisonment?
There are some other places where Beauty’s expectations come into play, but that’s more a question for next time. (Ethics and themes and whatnot.) In the story, the reader is shown how Beauty stays brave and true, consistently turning down the beast throughout her confinement. But how—and when—does she change her mind about him?
What would her diary entries from this time in the story reveal about her plans for the future, her thoughts on the castle and her home?


*Stockholm Syndrome refers to a situation where a captive "falls in love" with his or her captor. This is a serious and dangerous psychological condition, usually accompanied by the captor manipulating the prisoner and forcing a false sense of dependency. Beware!

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